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Meet Goldie!, 01/29/2024

By Marisa Winkel, for Spring Hill Schools

SHES students showing Goldie love during recessAs of last year, and coming to light this year, Spring Hill Elementary introduced Goldie the therapy dog to students. Helen Kuttes, former Spring Hill Middle nurse, is Goldie’s handler who received certification through Pet Partners.

“We went through a K-9 dog school here in Spring Hill, for... basic obedience training, and then she had a certification test that she had to go through [to ensure] that I could be an okay handler for her,” Kuttes said.

Shelby Fleming, Spring Hill Elementary counselor, and others wanted to create more positivity in the school environment. An idea came up that a therapy dog would be a great fit.

Goldie is a three-year- old Golden Irish who visits schools, hospitals, and nursing homes to bring positivity to places of need. Goldie comes to Spring Hill Elementary on Monday afternoons.

“We try to find as many ways as possible to help kids have a positive school experience and want to come to school and enjoy being [there]. I think Goldie is one piece in that because they get so excited to see her and they look forward to it and are always asking about her,” Fleming said.

Close up of Goldie's vest and staff badgeStudents have come to love Goldie so much that she is recognized in the community.

“What I’ve noticed is that when [students] notice her out in the community, they’re really excited. At the Fall Festival, she could have had her own booth, because people were like ‘oh it’s Goldie!’,” Kuttes said.

Having Goldie around at schools provides students comfort and stress relief by stopping by to pet her. Fleming and Kuttes both have seen an impact of student attitudes and the excitement Goldie creates. Fleming provides the opportunity for parents to schedule their students to have one-on-one meetings with Goldie during times of need. These meetings are found to work well for students as it has been a popular request made by students and parents.

“Either I identified a student that maybe had tough stuff going on at home or might need a bit of extra emotional support. Or sometimes parents will reach out and let me know that their kid is struggling. [Goldie] is one of the options that I suggest in those cases,” Fleming said. “They’ll sign a permission form for the student to come and meet Goldie when she comes in.”

Goldie showing SHES students tricks at recessGoldie also visits classrooms and recesses. During recess, students get to spend more time with Goldie.

“We walk outside and you hear people screaming ‘Goldie!’ from across the playground. She stays on a leash and we usually find a spot to sit down because some kids are scared of dogs and so they want to stay away; but for the most part, kids will run up and pet her and talk to her for a minute. Sometimes they’ll want to stay the whole recess with her,” Kuttes said. “It is very popular. A lot of kids are very excited to see her.”

 

To read additional articles from the most recent issue of the district magazine, please visit Spring Hill Schools Magazine Winter '24.